Posted in Atlantic City books, Contests, Writing

IWSG—Trying Another Contest and Minuscule Sales

My Horny Hump Day post is here.


It’s time again for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which convenes the first Wednesday of every month.

I’ve decided to go for it and try entering this year’s PitchWars, hosted by Brenda Drake. While I’m still confident that going indie is the best venue for many of my books, it can’t hurt to try a contest with one of my shorter books. I’m not anti-agent, even if it seems a lot of traditionally published books in recent years are kind of cookie-cutter and bland, not very distinctive or line-breaking.

I’ve found a few mentors on the list who are interested in historical MG, which I really think could still fit The Very First. It’s only 60,000 words, set over only three months, and has young characters dealing with rather un-adult situations. Sparky (real name Katherine) struggles to learn how to become a real American girl without compromising her Jewish faith, while her new best friend Cinni learns there’s more than one way to be a real American.

I have to roll my eyes at how the agents who dogpiled me in a pitchfest somewhere else a few years ago took issue with a Jewish girl named Katherine. Um, yeah, because it was totally unheard of for German Jews to give their kids secular names instead of hideous shtetl monikers like Faiga, Shternie, and Gitty! And they had no room to harp on that if they’ve liked or represented contemporaries with clearly predated naming trends, like Aidan, Kayden, Mikayla, and Madison!

Also huge eyeroll at how they said it seemed a lot like American Girl. Yeah, the concept might be similar, but it certainly wasn’t inspired at all by American Girl, and the book is a lot longer and more complex than the short American Girl stories! I know I’m biased, but I think it’s a cute, sweet story, and I’m really proud of how I undertook that significant rewrite and restructuring. It’s a myth that absolutely ALL books need rewritten to be good, but this is one of the books which really benefitted from a huge shake-up!


I’m still seeing very pitiful sales from the two books I’ve got out, and absolutely no sales from Kobo or Nook. The paltry sales I’ve made since May all come from Kindle. I’m realistic enough to understand not everyone who’s congratulated or wished me well plans to buy my books, but I kind of expect people who’ve expressed interest in reading them to have bought them. Are people waiting for physical copies?

I can see from the links clicked section of my sidebar that people have clearly been looking at the Amazon, Kobo, and Nook pages, yet I’m not seeing any sort of corresponding sales increases. I’m sticking to the prices of $4.99 and $7.99, based on the length. I’m not going to put myself in the $2.99 ghetto, or give my hard work away for only 99 cents.

A lot of people say one shouldn’t expect sales to pick up till at least the third book. And as a music-lover, I think of how a band can be floundering, not hitting it big or having really sunk in popularity, and then along comes an album like Tommy or a song like “Ordinary World” to save them. Maybe my first Russian historical will be the one to save me in November, or the first book released next year?


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

19 thoughts on “IWSG—Trying Another Contest and Minuscule Sales

  1. Hello, I’m hopping around visiting new peeps. I’m also entering the Pitch Wars contest and feeling queasy since I never entered a contest before. Agents are sooo fickle it’s ridiculous, I get feedback that makes my eyes roll too! And book sales for an average author like myself are way, way down too. So we’re in the same boat, lets try and keep it afloat!


  2. My husband did the band thing for years; from teen years through his early 30s. I wish I could say he made any money from it. The work in breaking out is brutal and they had so many “nearly made it” moments with studios and labels. I see a lot of parallels to publshing. What’s tough is many creative types are not necessarily business savvy (not saying this is you, just generally speaking). The self pub authors who’ve found a lot of success who I have seen in workshops are very business savvy. They know marketing, promotion, finace, Amazon key words, etc. To me it all feels overwhelming when I just want to write stories.

    So all that to say, I hear you. Readers have so many options these days. Few sales is not indicitive of the quality of your book. Discoverability is a huge concern for first time indie pub authors. How do people find your book?


  3. Good luck with the contest, Carrie-Anne! I have a feeling you’re going to do good. 🙂

    My sales for my previous work is pretty much non-existent, too. But I understand that’s normal. That’s why I’m excited for my novella to come out next month as that might help pick the sales back up. For me, there are a lot of books by authors I know that I want to read, but I’m going through a tough financial situation, so I have to put off buying anyone’s books until things change.

    Keep your head up!


  4. I know you worked hard. But you are trying to tempt readers to take a gamble on an unknown. Few with gamble $7.99 on an unknown. Try $2.99 and $3.99 respectively and see if that helps. Some sales at those prices will garner you more than zero sales at your current ones. Right now, you want exposure to tempt people to try your next book. Best of luck on the contest.


  5. I hadn’t really heard of pitch-wars, but now will keep it in mind (for the future, nowhere near ready for that just now!)
    For your story… I guess it sounds vaguely like some of the American Girl stories (the historical ones.. which I adored), but it also sounds quite different, and I’m with you on the naming eye-roll, sigh….
    Best of luck to you!


  6. Hi, Carrie-Ann,
    Unfortunately, we have to mix things up a little to encourage people to buy. I have found that people who are trying out a new author might buy anything from 0.99 – 2.99 to get a feel for whether they like an author or not, but they may not go higher in a world where there are so many free books that they can choose not to spend a dollar ever again. Not telling you to lower your prices, but it would be good if you had even a short story or prequel, something short and sweet to entice readers.

    Good luck with the pitch war.


  7. No, you can’t expect sales from, even, people who say things like, “I can’t wait to read it!” Mostly, people just say those things to be nice. They are not waiting for physical copies. They’re just not planning on buying it at all. If you do a free give away, people will download it, but they probably still won’t read it.
    That’s just the way things are.


  8. I had a freebee day for my first novel after selling it for 2 years. I thought what the heck, right. Well, a ton of people grabbed at the chance, but the good news. They bought my 2nd book! I know, who knew.


  9. Pitchwars! Wave “Hi” for me at Sharon Johnston, my mentor from a few years back. She’s amazing. I completely understand your hesitation to lower your prices, but you have to keep in mind the more people read you work, the wider spread word of mouth goes. Big publishers distribute THOUSANDS (think 10 or so) of free copies of books to get interest up. Plentiful and positive reviews also contribute to greater readership, and have you attempted giveaways on Goodreads or Librarything? Targeting book review blogs that cater to your niche and have a strong readership, also a good idea. Guest posting in places your audience is likely to be hanging out? Also a very good idea. There are many things you can do to boost sales, but you have to realize they aren’t going to change all at once. The “make it” mark is typically about 10 years for published authors.


  10. My TBR list is so long, even when I intend to read a book, it can sometimes take months for me to get to it. Then I get asked to judge a contest or life gets too hectic and I get way behind and it takes even longer. I think everyone’s just so busy, it’s hard for many of us to read a book right away. Goodreads has also given us the ability to save something and get to it later.


  11. Yeah, not many people are going to take a chance on an unknown author for the price your books are selling at. I buy plenty of ebooks from authors I don’t know but am looking for a fairly cheap price (max $2.99) and multiple good reviews, neither of which your books have. Then if I like it I’d pay more for other books from the same author. Yes, you’ve worked hard and don’t want to undersell your work but it’s more about creating a name for yourself and getting your work read than making money, especially at this stage. You need to look at reducing prices, sales and give-aways. Also you have two books out under two different names so it’s going to be even more of a struggle for you. People who buy and read one book aren’t automatically going to seek out and find the other one.


  12. I recently read it takes 5 books for an author to really sell. I’m almost getting there.

    I like Joy’s advice.

    Since I’m a Prime member who takes advantage of borrowing a book a month, I borrowed your first book and reviewed it. I heard authors make sales from Prime, but I don’t know what the cut is.


  13. I bought ’em! Haven’t had time to read them yet . . . and good luck. 60,000 words–I’m impressed! There are worse things than being compared to American Girl 🙂


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